Head’s blog

Lent 2021 – Week 3

Lent - Week 3

Another week of ‘home schooling’ complete. Congratulations to ALL. I think that, actually, the term ‘home schooling’ is incorrect. Home schooling is a choice that
parents make to take their child out of school and educate them themselves at home. They are part of many home schooling groups and take their children to
museums, theatre, workshops. What you are doing, parents, is not by choice in any way. Nobody here is choosing to home school. What you, and we, are doing is
making the best of a terrible and difficult situation. What you are doing is keeping your children and your families safe during a global pandemic. Support for everyone in our community, lonely, fed up children, exhausted parents and challenged staff, is the name of the game. We very much get and understand this and the Management Team are starting our ‘welfare’ telephone calls to families this week. Reaching out to those who we know are particularly struggling or have, for example, a number of children in different year groups. We want you to know that we are here to support you and, hopefully, even just a chat and some reassurance should help. It has been fun to say ‘hello’ to you in the background when I have popped into form tutor slots this week.

I am sure many of you watched Joe Biden become the new President of America. I was blown away by the wonderful Amanda Gorman, poet laureate, and her incredible poem ‘The Hill We Climb’. The words are here for those who have a moment.

Thank you to all who completed the Parent Survey. It is incredibly helpful for us to have your views on how it is all working for your child ‘on the ground’. We are working on making some tweaks over the next week, including brain breaks between lessons, some more live sport for the Upper School, in particular, and the
launch of our new ‘Reading Laureate’ scheme from our new Librarian, Miss Hodder-Williams. We are tidying up Google Classrooms so that the Meet link will be one displayed in the top bar and returning to ‘live’ assemblies. I have so missed this (Google has, unfortunately, set limits on numbers). We will move to
Pre-prep, Lower School and Upper School live Assemblies on a Friday. More information on this to follow.

Our story times are now all recorded and you can access these to watch again on the Library Classroom ‘Classwork’ tab at the top. Stories have been recorded for Nursery to Lower School, at the moment. We are launching a driveby pick-up of individual reading books for Pre-prep children to take place once a
week. Mrs Ball is manning this and has more details further on in the newsletter. We are delighted to be able to offer this, so that they children can keep up with their reading.

Some really exciting new activities this week, with Street Dance tutorials from Miss Tibbott, a ‘Lip Sync’ House challenge from Mr Budgett, which the Upper School will love (and the staff), and the re-introduction of the Head’s Challenge, as well as some cookery tutorials (videos to come next week). We are trying to keep it fresh and exciting for the children.

Mrs Johnston’s HEAD’S CHALLENGE continues this week following some super cool roller coasters last week. I’ve commented on them all if your child wants to see. Pictured right is Josie-May’s, from Reception; well done!  This week: Build a model of a ROOM in your house using Lego or any other materials you like. If you would like to draw a picture that is fine too. Further details on the Activity programmes.

Have a lovely weekend with your families.

Mrs Charlotte Johnston

Lent term 2021 – Week 2

Lent - Week 2

Everyone is beginning to settle now into a routine of Remote Learning and a small number of children onsite for key worker school. Congratulations to those support staff who have stepped up so brilliantly to be with the children here onsite. I have had a big walk round this morning before writing this and have been struck by the enormity of what we have achieved in very little time. Dropping into key worker classrooms, you are met with a hushed silence, each child with headphones concentrating, listening and learning at their own pace. They are able to see their friends at home and have direct access to their teacher throughout their lessons, exactly like they would at school. The teachers (all teaching from their homes) are working in real-time so the children really are getting ‘live’ teaching. They share their screens so that the lessons are clear and talk the children through their learning. The teachers communicate with individual children, listen to queries and answer them either by message or by live question and answers for each lesson. I caught up with Mr Cunliffe, who is working from his classroom rather than his home. He estimates that each one hour lesson takes an hour to prepare, then there is LIVE teaching and the afternoons are spent marking the work done in the morning, feeding back and preparing the lessons for the next day. It is a massive task for everyone onsite and off, but it is working. Well done all!

I know (because I can see you all) how much work parents still do have to do to assist their children, but it is certainly less than some schools, which only provide a ‘work pack’. Some children are wearing their school uniform; some parents have stated it helps their children differentiate between work time and home time.  A good idea to try if your child is worrying about that. However, other parents have written in to say that their child just gets on with it. They hear them taking part/playing their recorder in Mr Hoban’s music lesson and joining in with tutor time. It really is an extraordinary thing.  Testing staff onsite has started. Thank you to Mrs Hurley, Matron, the admin team and our parent volunteers for getting this off the ground. It is all getting more straightforward and manageable. The boys’ dormitory is unrecognisable!

We are introducing more live afternoon sessions. Storytime has a different presenter each day; do log in.  Apologies for some of the glitches this week. It will settle next week. Mrs White does live sport everyday.  Look at the activity programme, which will be extended so your child can log in to live activities if they
wish.  Assembly is moving to Pre-prep, Lower School and Upper School so that all can access and I can say “Hello” to all the children from next week. More
information to follow Thank you for completing the survey with feedback.  All comments are much appreciated.

I am starting the Head’s Challenge again. This will now be on the Activity Programme each week.  Get your children designing the Rollercoasters! I will
comment on their individual work. Thank you! Here is Lily’s to whet your appetites!

Mrs Charlotte Johnston

Lent Term 2021 – Week 1

Lent - Week 3

Welcome back for the Lent term and Happy New Year to you all. We welcome new members of staff and 12 new pupils. We have a new testing centre being set up, a skeleton staff onsite looking after key worker children and all other children remote learning at home.

Well, here we are again! Week 1 of Lockdown School. This one slightly different, however, as we had only 12 hours to turn it all around. We have gone back to the timetables when we were last in lockdown. We are doing our two-week review, with surveys going to parents, pupils and staff next Thursday, and already have
some things that we will be looking at: with some ‘Live’ optional activity sessions for Music and Sport, particularly, happening in the afternoons which the children can log on to if they wish. It is good to mix things up and keep things fresh and your feedback is very welcome; but please wait for a week and feedback in the survey, that will give us all time to get things bedded in. Do make sure that the children log in to story time every afternoon, whatever their age. We are mixing things up this year with different readers from myself, to Mrs Ball, Mrs Wellington-Smith and our new Librarian, with lots of fun ideas as to how the children can join in. This will all start from next week, with tutors getting it going this week.

I am well aware how difficult it is homeschooling, particularly when you have more than one child, different in age, and are trying to work yourselves. It is a tough situation. Well done to all for getting through the first week and thank you for the support. You will have received an important letter from Mr Middleton with
regards to fees. Our thoughts go out to some of our parents whose children we are looking after at key worker school, who are working on the frontline at the Royal Devon & Exeter hospital and working with the enormous roll out of the vaccination program. One parent vaccinated 400 people in two days last week. I have offered the school site to the vaccination program and know that other schools have done the same. The sooner we get those vaccinations done, the sooner we can get back to normal.

We welcome new members of staff: Mrs Stevens, HLTA, and Ms Hodder-Williams, Librarian, as well as Mrs Pettet in Year 4. Miss Green has had her baby, Zachary Joseph Ashley weighing in at a mighty 9lb 1oz on 27 December. I am sure you will join me in offering our congratulations.

I will sign off by saying that St Peter’s was the first to get all children back on site last year following lockdown and please rest assured that, as soon as we
are allowed, we will do the same. Remote Learning Guides are being sent out separately today, where all the information you need can be found in one

I wish you a happy and safe weekend with your families.

Mrs Charlotte Johnston

Michaelmas 2020 – Week 12

Michaelmas - Week 12

Thank you to the PTA for their secret visit last weekend for a socially-distanced decorating committee and purchasing the wonderful Christmas tree and outdoor
lights for the main house. The children and staff could not believe it when they arrived to such beautiful decorations on Monday morning. We would like to say a
big ‘thank you’ to Mrs Falloon and St Bridget Nurseries for kindly donating our large outdoor Christmas tree. Don’t forget to look at our Christmas Newsletter, where you will find a 15% discount code for St Peter’s families to use on trees at St Bridget. Here is a little video of some children saying thank you and for all of you to be able to see the decorations!

We are very grateful to Gareth Steenson for running a Google Meet with the children next week to show them his medals. They are all very excited! Good news about a vaccine this week. We look forward to moving back to normality next year. I have an end of term letter, which was sent out earlier today, outlining some minor plans and changes, as well as a summary of staffing news. We will keep the online calendar for one more term, with a return to the printed one in the Trinity term 2021.

The Pre-prep Nativity is being shared this week – feel free to watch at home. The children and staff will all enjoy watching it in school as part of the Christmas festivities next week. Quite frankly, I think it is an absolute triumph!! There is more information in the School Notices section of the newsletter.

Have a super weekend with your families.

Charlotte Johnston